New technology will let buyers view houses — at home or abroad — without leaving the comfort of their sofa
I’m taking a tour of 2 Radnor Place, a five-floor Georgian townhouse in Sussex Gardens near Hyde Park. I’ve seen the master bedroom, and inside its vast wardrobe; I’ve been shown the media room and which buttons to press to turn on its GCHQ-style multi-room entertainment system. I’ve tried all the fancy taps, peered out of all the windows and checked out the neighbours’ outdoor space.
And all without having to move from the swivel stool at the kitchen’s breakfast bar where I’m glued to a MacBook screen. Instead, I’ve been bossing about an agent, Martin Bikhit of Kay & Co, who is wearing Google Glass and acting as my legs in this live-streamed “virtual viewing”.
Ignore the fact I’m in the house, that’s just for the sake of giving this new technology a try. The idea is that I could be in Russia or China, which is where the real buyers of this £5 million pad are likely to come from, or eating sushi at my desk on the other side of the city, too busy to travel to a real-life viewing.
Google Glass, which went on sale in the United States for the first time on April 15 for just 24 hours, has been vaunted as the new frontier for mobile technology. It offers hands-free, wearable internet, video and camera that can be used for everything from saving lives — surgeons could ask experts to walk them through a tricky procedure with a live video stream — to tidy cooking, where chefs with sticky hands can read a recipe without having to flick through a book or iPad.
Now estate agents and developers have spotted its potential for helping them to sell houses to busy and increasingly international buyers.
The prototype Google Glass functions like a smartphone implanted in a pair of specs. I try on the lenseless frames and a little screen hovers in the top right of my vision. This can record exactly what I see, leading to fears about privacy. The specs also act as a mini-computer screen responsive to voice commands. I can call up a map of the local area: “Ok Glass, Google nearest Tube stations”, or (one for the truly lazy selfie fan) stand in front of the mirror, take a snap and post it straight to all my waiting followers: “Ok Glass, take photo, send to Twitter”, without using my hands.
Steve Reilly, the chief executive of VistaBee, which makes “real estate movies” for property websites such as Zoopla, has started to use Google Glass to film homes for sale. He believes that it is a “game changer, allowing buyers to save time while also benefiting from an agent’s knowledge in the property”. Reilly says that the positioning of the video on Google Glass offers a more immediate, realistic perspective of a building than an ordinary camera can provide.
Reilly says that an agent with Google Glass can conduct a virtual tour by walking around a property; the Glass can record a video to be sent to potential buyers later via email, or broadcast online through a live-stream. This enables buyers to check out lots of homes in a short space of time from the comfort of their sofa, so that they can book in a visit for their favourites or even buy a property without setting foot in it at all.
As yet, the technology has been handed out by invitation only to a few “explorers” in the UK to test and develop its usability. It is unclear when it will be more widely available or whether it will be worth its existing $1,500 (nearly £900) price tag.
VistaBee’s CEO, Steve Reilly is a Google Glass Explorer.
Reproduced from The Times, view the full article here:Read More